Co-founder of Danish greentech startup: "Being a greentech startup in Denmark has never been more attractive"
The aim in Reel is to be the next success story to grow out of a pioneer spirit.
Jon Sigvert is the co-founder of the Danish startup, Reel, which seeks to innovate corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) between corporations and energy producers. Aiming to reduce the energy sector’s environmental footprint, Reel is currently working to standardise the legal frameworks of PPAs and to build a technology that pools small- and medium-sized businesses in clusters that imitate large corporations, thereby allowing them to enter PPAs on an equal footing with large corporations.
Through this rethinking of energy agreements, Reel’s goal is to further encourage energy producers to establish green energy solutions such as windmill parks: "I am a big climate and environment advocate. I aim to be a realist and have a constructive approach to the climate challenges. If we are to solve the climate challenges in time, we need to develop new and innovative solutions."
Having always been keen to improve the transition to renewable energy solutions, Sigvert is now using technology to help this transition along. Through Reel, Sigvert is motivated to make his contribution to Denmark’s path towards becoming a carbon neutral country by 2050: "Denmark has been a pioneering country in sustainable solutions. Our aim in Reel is to be the next success story to grow out of a pioneer spirit."
MAKING THE MOST OF UNIVERSITY PROGRAMMES A recent MSc graduate from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Jon Sigvert studied environmental engineering with a specialisation in sustainability assessments and life cycle analyses. DTU is also the place where Sigvert and his co-founder took the first step toward taking Reel from idea to reality.
Through an entrepreneurship course at DTU, Sigvert launched his startup with the support of DTU Skylab, DTU’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Reel landed a spot in the DTU Skylab Incubator, which is one of several examples of Danish universities’ support of the entrepreneurial scene in Denmark.
The Incubator has its own co-working space and supplies its participants with mentoring and access to soft funding, as well as exposure to investors and stakeholders from the greentech industry. Sigvert is eager to emphasise the crucial role DTU has played in making Reel a reality: "DTU gave us the stepping-stone we needed. We were able to work on the project whilst still being students. We were able to utilise the entire startup ecosystem at DTU, matching us up with relevant stakeholders. At the same time, we were connected to other students – we even met some of our current team members through the entrepreneurship course."
As part of the entrepreneurship course, Reel participated in the course’s startup competition on DTU’s Innovation Day, winning first place, which earned Sigvert and Reel the prize of DKK 200,000. The prize was funded by the private venture fund PreSeed Ventures, further underlining how Denmark succeeds in bringing together startups with actors from private industries and universities.
A COUNTRY FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES According to Sigvert’s experience, there is an abundance of opportunities available to greentech startups in Denmark – both through private partnerships and through state supported programmes: "Our biggest challenge has been to navigate between all the opportunities that Denmark has to offer. Within the greentech industry, a lot of the programmes offered are starting to specifically address greentech startups."
Through recommendations made by other startups in the DTU Skylab Incubator, Reel has also joined the Climate-KIC Nordic accelerator programme supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, which has led to three rounds of funding for Reel: "It feels like we have been going from one exciting programme to the next, and we have been able to improve and evolve the product and the company very fast. It has truly been overwhelming to receive so much help, mentoring and funding from these people and programmes."
Most recently, Reel has been given a place on the Innofounder graduate programme offered by Innovation Fund Denmark. The 12-month programme gives the participants access to mentoring resources as well as a co-working space with other startups, whilst at the same time providing the startups with a salary, allowing them to invest their energy into the startup full-time throughout the programme.
WORKING ALONGSIDE PEERS FROM THE STARTUP SCENE As part of the DTU Skylab Incubator, Sigvert has been able to work at the coworking spaces at the Incubator, sharing the space with 11 other startups: "The startup environment is so strong and there is so much support from everyone. The time we spent there [at the Incubator workspace] was so motivating. You are surrounded by others who are in the same position as yourself, and we support each other in developing our startups. People work hard and everyone is doing something that they are so passionate about, wanting to make a mark on sustainability as quickly as possible."
Even though the startup environment can be fast-paced and involve long hours, Sigvert's experience is that there is great emphasis on not working too hard: "There is no use in burning out already. We need to look out for ourselves too. The coaches and mentors that we met through the Incubator all attach great importance to this."
TAKING THE PLUNGE TOWARDS A GREENER FUTURE Having been a bit nervous in the beginning about taking the leap from student to entrepreneur and co-founder of a startup, Sigvert soon found that his nervousness had been unnecessary: "We had such a soft landing in the startup scene with so much support that I can only recommend others to throw yourselves into it. In our experience, there has been so much help to get from everyone and there are so many programmes that provide whatever support your startup needs."
Sigvert is currently preparing to take another plunge as Reel expects to launch their product at the beginning of 2022.